This week’s episode set into motion what this final season will be about. Change is afoot for the titular girls. After last week’s bottle episode, which was equal parts claustrophobic and revelatory, it felt nice to see everyone else — but watching their individual darknesses calcify is tough.
The episode is a tight 30 minutes of setup for each character pair. First, Hannah, whose story line has taken a dramatic turn. We open with her seemingly doing her job without problem, interviewing Ode Montgomery, a writer played with wacky precision by Tracy Ullman — no bra, mismatched teacups, a bold lip. Ode stridently shuts down Hannah’s preconceived notions about being a writer — solitude isn’t the best end game, because it’s not the most productive space. Writers need people because it’s not an entirely selfish act. Ode chose to have no children, she chose to write, and that was because being a woman is hard enough. Being a woman and being a writer — that’s harder.
Surely chewing this over in her mind, Hannah deals with her UTI the only way she knows how: by sending a picture of her blood-infused urine to her mother via FaceTime. Mom tells her to go to the ER, where she is greeted by a very familiar face: Patrick Wilson, whom you’ll remember as the doctor Hannah played naked ping-pong with in a beautiful apartment in Brooklyn Heights one hazy summer day. They’re already quite familiar with each other, and so there is no need for formalities. Which is probably why he drops the news that Hannah has a UTI and also tells her that she’s pregnant.
Hannah’s pregnant. The father is Jean Louis (Riz Ahmed) — remember all that Hamptons sex they had? — so there you go. The doctor tries to offer help for an abortion, but Hannah reacts in the only way I can imagine her reacting: “What makes you think I want an abortion?” she asks, and walks away.
Every character this season is finally confronting their own monstrous selfishness. Marnie Marie Michaels is up next. Her narcissism is pathological at this point; it’s sharp and dangerous and she wields it without even thinking. It hurts other people, like Ray, who greatly enjoys having sex with her and would also like to do regular things like eat dumplings and get a beer. Marnie can only talk about the inane mundanities of her life as if they were matters of great national security. (No one cares whether or not you take an Uber to the thing you have to go to. No one. Not even Ray.)
Marnie’s narcissism rears its ugly head in full during the scene with Desi and his addiction counselor. Marnie is his worst enabler; Desi feels like she supported or encouraged the relapse. Marnie’s been incapable of seeing the forest for the trees her entire life, but nowhere is it more evident than in this conversation with Desi. Remember: They were married. They were in a relationship for over a year. Marnie was somehow so far up her own ass that she couldn’t see that the man she was in a relationship was also in a relationship with Oxycontin. That’s almost impressive. Desi’s confession is heartfelt and largely true. Marnie’s response is also heartfelt and largely true, which should give you an idea of the kind of person she really is.
“I have bruises all over my body from the two-hour massages I need to deal with the stress of your addiction,” she says.
“You just made my whole drug treatment about you, “ Desi replies. He’s clocked her for who she is, but maybe it’s too late.
Ray’s also having a crisis of self. Despite all the attempts he’s made at living a new and different kind of life (communism, music, sitcom writer), he’s still back where he always is: at the mercy of others’ stories, whether it's Marnie’s babble or Bobby’s long-winded tale about Ed Koch. Ray cuts Bobby off, but Bobby falls down outside and hurts himself — and that’s what makes Ray start to look long and hard at his actual life. Hermie, his boss/friend, is both cheerleader and cautionary tale. “You can’t listen to everyone at the same time,” Hermie tells Ray. “Maybe it's about picking who to listen to.”
Something Hermie says sticks — maybe it's his wasted potential, or maybe it’s the fact that Ray recognizes himself in Hermie. He runs to Hermie’s house to tell him that he’s ready to change his life, but Hermie’s on the couch, not breathing, with the TV on.
And what of our destructive, horribly toxic, sexually aggressive lovebirds Jessa and Adam? Adam’s fed up with acting, having stormed off the set of a truly terrible-looking indie film that required him to wear patchwork denim, a graphic tee, a blazer, and a very bad outer-borough accent. He and the director don’t agree, so rather than trying to, I don’t know, do a job that he was hired to do without being a child, he storms off set and back into his sex lair/apartment, all bulging veins and raging Adam Driver yelling.
Jessa’s got an idea because she’s always got an idea: Instead of having Adam act in movies made by other people, why don’t they make the movies themselves? What better story to tell than the one of Jessa, Hannah, and Adam? It has everything; it’s essentially a metaphor for life.
Full of the vim and vigor, they wait for Hannah outside her front door. When she comes back from the hospital, she sees the both of them, vibrating with nervous, manic energy. When they pitch the film to her, she holds back tears and tells them to do whatever they want. Not the reaction they were expecting, but clearly, she has other things on her mind.